Literature has not lost its allure

"A person does not need to study English or arts in university in order to pursue a literary career."

Featured on The Irish Times.


With the recession still a prevalent memory in students’ minds, arts degrees are receiving less applicants while science, business and IT soar in numbers. People have an innate love for poetry, novels, and plays, but there is an ever-present fear of completing a degree that will result in unemployment.

Parents recommend doing a ‘serious’ degree and students are often too afraid to follow their dreams when it comes to selecting a college course. University is the path most people follow when moulding their career after all.

Irish author, Lia Mills said that this is not necessarily a bad thing because the life of an author can be a difficult thing to live. She agrees that perhaps students are taking a step back from studying literature in college but that doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative thing.

Mills said that it is hard to make a living as an author and even when you are a professional, full-time writer, you may still need another job to substantiate your writing. Not only will having another job or a degree in another area provide certainty for monetary income, it also allows you to live and explore different aspects of life.

“The work that you do will feed your writing”, Mills said. “It means you’re in the world, you’re doing things, you’re getting to know things, you’re around other people and you’re understanding how the world changes. So your work feeds your writing and your writing feeds your work.”

This doesn’t mean that literature is a dying art or that it has become less important in the life of Irish citizens. In fact a person does not need to study English or arts in university in order to pursue a literary career. Books can be written in between classes and poems can be crafted at lunch or dinner time.

You can educate yourself in the world of writing and you can hone your creativity in your own time rather than in a classroom or lecture hall environment.

Brendan Teeling, the Deputy Librarian for Dublin, said: “Literature, by which I mean the writing, publishing and reading of literature, remains a huge part of the cultural life of Ireland.”

“In Dublin, for example, we welcome over two and a half million visitors to our libraries every year and those visitors borrow around 2.8 million books,” he said.

The Dublin Unesco City of Literature is an establishment in Dublin which encourages and promotes young writers.  Teeling believes that Dublin, the ‘city of literature’, is more than just its historic writers. It is its modern, contemporary writers who need to write dangerously in order to maintain a city that is so rich in writing.

Dublin is the fourth Unesco City of Literature it first being established in 2010. Since then it has organised festivals such as ‘one book, one city’ and has helped run competitions such as the Hot Press ‘Write Here, Write Now’ competition. All of these events had such huge contributions and attendances which in turn shows the immense love present for books.

It shows that when one is considering which degree to study not to rule out pursuing a career in writing outside of the course they may choose to undertake. There is evidently still a profound adoration and respect for all things literature present in Ireland, with young minds definitely playing an ample role in it.

Shauna Bowers

Image Credit: BookAdiction

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